On Thursday, October 30, Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson held the Town Meeting for the Fall 2014 semester, delivering a speech entitled “Seizing the Future.” The speech focused primarily on Rensselaer’s approach to 2024—the 200 year anniversary of the Institute’s founding—and how Rensselaer remains at the cutting edge as a state-of-the-art research institute.
Jackson opened by discussing the milestones that Rensselaer is reaching in 2014. The Lally School of Management is celebrating 50 years since its establishment, even though the school was founded 51 years ago in 1963. The School of Engineering is celebrating 100 years of Chemical and Biological Engineering, a concentration that was introduced at RPI in 1914. This year also marks the 10 year anniversary of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. Finally, July 1 will be the 15th anniversary of Jackson’s appointment as President of the Institute.
After introducing the members of her cabinet and faculty leadership, Jackson proceeded to discuss how The Rensselaer Plan, the series of goals Jackson created for the Institute in 2000, has positively transformed Rensselaer by attributing the school’s rapidly rising reputation to the success of the plan. Among other statistics, Forbes magazine recently named Rensselaer as the 11th best university for incipient entrepreneurs. Freshman applications rose 15 percent between the classes of 2017 and 2018, and the Class of 2018, the most recent class to join RPI, is remarkably strong, both in side and outside of the classroom.
With all of the new initiatives that have been introduced, Jackson believes that the improvements brought to Rensselaer will yield tremendous new opportunities for both the students and faculty. Out of a new partnership with IBM, Rensselaer has established the IBM Jefferson Project at Lake George, which aims to establish a new model for environmental stewardship. Through the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Inquiry curriculum, students are learning how to think more critically about the problems around them. The Clustered Learning, Advocacy and Support for Students initiative, which serves as the Institute’s residential and developmental model, has effectively joined the living and learning environments at Rensselaer and is considered vital by Jackson for making connections across boundaries of all kinds.
Jackson also mentioned some of the unique programs that are being offered to students, such as the Calculus Bridge Program, which consists of a two week residential component and a six week online component to help prepare students for Calculus I at Rensselaer, and the Archimedeans, an honor society for students that earn a 4.0 GPA for at least 90 credit hours.
The meeting concluded with an update on RPI’s policy on Ebola, a video on the Jefferson Project, and questions from the audience.